Airport, please! heading to Tokyo to Fergus McCaffrey’s exhibition Seven/Seven The Fraught Landscape
This exhibition serves as a conceptual sequel to Fergus McCaffrey’s historic 2019 New York exhibition, Japan Is America. Continuing Japan Is America’s exploration of the Japanese-American creative exchange, Seven/Seven furthers this transatlantic narrative, applying a cinematic lens to the joint cultural landscape, taking its title from Akira Kurasawa’s Japanese epic Seven Samurai (1954), and the iconic Western film by John Sturges The Magnificent Seven (1960) that followed suit.
Focusing on a selection of works made by artists predominantly from 1985 to 2021, Seven/Seven considers the ways in which conscience and self-assertion manifests core concerns for both Eastern and Western contemporary artists. Departing from the archetypes of the epic and the Western, Seven/Seven contemplates the transformative process by which a sequence of static images becomes a moving film; presenting works that engage with the dynamism, drama, and individualistic nature of these genres by artists whose committed path to their craft and vision is the stuff of which epics are made.The dozen or more artists whose work is presented throughout Seven/Seven represent widely aesthetically varied perspectives on the social, political and artistic milieus of both Japan and the United States. Seven/Seven is both historical and contemporary, while remaining rooted in filmic concepts—drawing important, urgent connections between today’s most compelling Japanese and American artists.
In this post-pandemic era of social distancing and divisive cultural distinctions, Seven/Seven reflects the similarities and differences between the two cultures.
Artists include: Cecily Brown, Anna Conway, Milford Graves, David Hammons, Tatsuo Ikeda, Tomoke Konoike, Shigeko Kubota, Hiroshi Nakamura, Richard Nonas, Ed Ruscha, Shoji Ueda, Joseph Olisaemeka Wilson, with special screenings of Francesca Gabbiani and MAGO (screening dates to be announced)
Founded in 2006, Fergus McCaffrey is internationally recognized for its groundbreaking role in promoting the work of post-war Japanese artists, as well as a quality roster of select contemporary European and American artists. Fergus McCaffrey has been instrumental in introducing post-war Japanese art to a Western market: Gutai artists Sadamasa Motonaga, Kazuo Shiraga and Toshio Yoshida; Hi-Red-Center members Jiro Takamatsu and Natsuyuki Nakanishi; and Noriyuki Haraguchi and Hitoshi Nomura from the Mono-Ha era. The gallery also exhibits the work of emerging and seminal Western artists, including Anna Conway, Jack Early, Marcia Hafif, Birgit Jürgenssen, Richard Nonas, Sigmar Polke, Carol Rama, William Scott, and Andy Warhol. Fergus McCaffrey, Tokyo opened in May of 2018.
Located in New York on West 26th Street, Tokyo in Minato-Ku, and St. Bart’s, the gallery offers impeccable examples of works that support his knowledge and depth of interest in select European and American artists.
Several of Seven/Seven’s artists explicitly comment on the historical— political—relationship between Japan and the United States in their work. To contextualize this contemporary framework—embedded in the historical, social DNA of both countries—outlined in this decades-spanning cross-cultural presentation, the exhibition begins with the politically engaged work of postwar Japanese artists, Tatsuo Ikeda and Hiroshi Nakamura.
Tatsuo Ikeda’s Untitled, 1957, comes out of a body of work— showing swollen, mutated animal and human figures—that the artist created in response to U.S. nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific, as well as the rapid reindustrialization of Japan in the post-nuclear era. His painting Toy World, 1967, part of a series of the same name created between 1966 and 1970, mounts a surrealist critique of changes in Japanese society following the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, which occurred in 1960, despite widespread protests. Likewise, Japanese artist Hiroshi Nakamura’s work is also deeply politically involved. Although Nakamura was trained in social realism techniques as a “reportage” painter, the paintings included in Seven/Seven, such as Drip, 1974, and Cyclope girls orgy, 1969, represent much more surrealist and pop culture-inspired interpretations of the fraught climate of postwar Japan.